Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Closing tabs

Trying to tidy up my utterly chaotic apartment - but the counterpart bit of tidying involves closing a lot of tabs that have been open for too long....

Best sight over Thanksgiving - PEZ dispensers at the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore!

Closing some tabs:

Photographs of Arctic foxes.

William McIlvanney has died - his Laidlaw books were a favorite with my Scottish grandfather.

Novel-reading has been fairly pitiful, though I need to write separate posts on books by Elana Ferrante and Garth Greenwell that are not pitiful.

Hahahahaha, have been contemplating this line as I thought longingly about blogging - am now on installments 13 to 15 of Sherrilyn Kenyon's Dark-Hunter novels - they are very good storytelling in their way, albeit somewhat repetitive when binge-read; I would like them better if there were less sex, but this is like saying I would like chocolate chip cookies better if there were no chocolate chips in them! (Also true.) Resolved to read a higher proportion of nonfiction in 2016 as there is less brain rot that way!

Actually I have had quite a few good things now that I think about it - I am always in peaks and troughs of despair and elation, fortunately something good usually turns up to read just when I am utterly dry....

Appealing caper crime: Lou Berney's first two novels, which are not so much my cup of tea as his most recent one but which are still incredibly good - I think he's my new favorite relative-newcomer crime writer.

Another very good first crime novel (from a veteran writer, and it shows): Lisa Sandlin, The Do-Right. There is perhaps a tad too much historical detail, but the writing is excellent and the storytelling is very good too (not always the case): Attica Locke is the closest parallel. I highly recommend this one - I think it will appeal slightly less to the general reader than Berney's The Long and Faraway Gone, as the historical setting is a little too lovingly realized and the story is less plausible, but it is worth mentioning in the same breath, especially on the strength of the characters and the prose.

Denisa Mina's excellent new Alex Morrow novel, Blood, Salt, Water.

Kevin Wignall, A Death in Sweden - great stuff! Not perhaps quite up to Peter Temple in the writing, but very good indeed - that is a standard few can meet, and this is definitely first-rate. Wignall's first few books made a big (positive) impression on me, but he hasn't been on my radar in recent years, and I am hoping that may mean there's some backlist I can catch up on. I just like this guy's brain - you know when you read a novel and it is so intelligent and compact and contained that you feel like you could live with it in your house?

Comfort reread when I couldn't find anything else: Eva Ibbotson, A Song for Summer (I love her books so much and it makes me very sad that there will be no more of them).

Appealing SF: C. A. Higgins, Lightless (I loved this one, and was perplexed by the negative Amazon reviews - yes, this is a little more simplistic than the Expanse books, say, in the best tradition of YA SF of the 50s and 60s, but it is incredibly gripping and the characters are really nicely brought to life - I hugely enjoyed it).

Mira Grant's latest sapient tapeworm installment, Chimera (she is a genius of light reading, everything she writes is what I most enjoy reading). Good thing for me she is so prolific! (And by the way, when did it become acceptable to apply the adjective "prolific" to, say, serial killers? I see it often and it always strikes me as a solecism!)

On the topic of serial killers, a rather terrible book by Alan Jacobson ccalled The 7th Victim. It is capably written and presumably reasonably well-informed about profiling and FBI procedures, but the main character is so utterly preposterous in her motivations and actions that it ruined everything else good about the book for me. (It reminded me of this very good recent post by Charlie Stross - writers take note....)

Three enjoyable and very light books by Deborah Blake, who I will continue to read despite what I feel to be the basic silliness of this kind of paranormal romance because she is a good writer!

My Greenwell and Ferrante posts may have to wait for another day, that's enough blogging after a long dry spell!

Final thought. If I can do four things tomorrow, everything will be OK:

(1) Run
(2) Finalize my spring-semester syllabus, which will involve a bit of library time, and email it to seminar leaders for Thursday morning meeting
(3) Write the two most pressing letters of recommendation
(4) Get to 5pm makeup powerlifting session

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